South African youth is encouraged to take advantage of the annual South African National Parks Week as it returns starting from Monday 12th to 18th September next week.
The worldwide campaign returns for the 17th time since it began in 2006 under the theme “Know Your National Parks” and is presented by South African National Parks (SANParks), in partnership with TotalEnergies Marketing South Africa and First National Bank (FNB), with the aim to allow locals with valid identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice, free of charge.
According to SANParks General Manager in Media, PR & Stakeholder Relations, Reynold Thakhuli, the existence of the campaign was prompted following a realisation that a vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks. Since inception, the initiative has seen about six hundred thousand day visitors in all participating parks.
“Every year SANParks aims to increase the number of citizens that are granted free access to national parks during this time and we want to see these numbers grow, especially after the last two years which halted travel around the world.” Thakhuli said.
The week-long campaign will be applicable to all the national parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Boulders in Table Mountain National Park and Namaqua National Park. Several of the parks will be extending the week to include the weekend.
“The week’s objective is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage. When people start to take pride in the national parks, they will start to understand the importance of conservation.” he said.
Thakuli also added that the week was also an opportunity to showcase all national parks as key and affordable local holiday destinations which offer a unique and enlightening experience that families and individuals from all backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles and communities could enjoy.
“In order to promote access to the natural, cultural and historical heritage that South Africa has to offer, we want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future.”
“If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access to such. SA National Parks week is aimed at linking the South African national parks system to the communities and to showcase the best of our country’s national parks.” Thakuli said.